That’s not painting, what he does.
—Picasso on Bonnard
The great art event in Paris this spring has been the resplendent Bonnard exhibition at Beaubourg. Though not an exhibition on the grand scale—it does not even attempt to give us a comprehensive account of the artist’s oeuvre—it has nonetheless proved to be one of those events that stay in the mind as a major experience, continuing to reverberate in the memory as something unexpectedly weighty and profound.
Bonnard profound? Is it possible? It was not the way one was used to thinking of him. One went to this exhibition, as one had always gone to Bonnard’s work, expecting pleasure; and pleasure it certainly afforded in ample measure. But added to this expected pleasure was something else—a sense of the...